How to use Twitter analytics: start sharing like the pros

Here’s how to make the most of Twitter’s data analysis tools - and why you need to

Twitter logo on mobile phone

Twitter is possibly one of the hardest social media nuts to crack. Although it promises a lot for business users, and specifically those that want to use its leadership and influence capabilities, it can be very time consuming to manage, with a focus on interaction and responding, rather than simply posting.

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One of Twitter's differentiators compared to other social media tools is that it generates so much more conversation, with people posting quickly and often very direct replies.

Twitter is a great customer service platform, too. Because it's so open, it can expose a company's flaws and potentially damage reputations. That said, it's a great way to demonstrate crisis management, with informative and accurate replies crucial to winning back some of that positive energy.

It's also a good place to connect with influencers, find out about the latest leaks and news and converse with people in real time. Instagram and Facebook just aren't designed to be used in the same way.

Twitter is growing in importance for politicians too. Donald Trump, for example, has pushed the platform forward, using it as a platform to voice his opinions, connect with voters and vie for support.

Twitter is first and foremost a marketing tool and, as such, it should be analysed and activity scrutinised in exactly the same way as your website is to make sure you're making the most of it.

Twitter Analytics is an extremely handy tool to help you understand how your followers are engaging, helping you to decide which posts people want more of and which you should perhaps scrap. You'll be able to see which accounts following you are most active, which click through to view more on your website and, ultimately, who is most likely to convert to become a loyal customer.

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Although there are lots of tools to decipher how people view your Twitter account, the in-built Twitter Analytics are the first place to check out, before you start investing in extras. Here's how to use them.

How to see how many people have viewed a tweet

Many Twitter users will be au fait with the service's basic analytics package. These are the reply, like and retweet buttons that sit underneath every tweet. These will give you a broad understanding of the people who have interested in a particular tweet. But to get under the skin of how others respond to your glowing tweets, you need to go deeper and use Twitter's full-on toolset of goodies.

To get more data on how well your tweet is doing, click on the bar graph icon beneath the tweet to see its activity. This works both on the mobile app and Twitter's desktop site. This displays the basic analytics data for that tweet, including the number of times people have seen it, how much they've interacted with it by liking, retweeting or replying to the tweet, and how many times they've clicked on an image or link within it.

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If you need a little more in-depth data as well as wanting to track a tweet's activity across a greater time frame, you can use the analytics tools integrated into Twitter's desktop website. There are aimed mainly at organisations that want to use the service for adverts and campaigns, but these tools can also help in tracking how well non-promoted tweets are performing as well.

How to access Twitter analytics

To access Twitter analytics, go to analytics.twitter.com, or click your profile picture in the top-right corner of the Twitter website to bring up the menu and click on 'analytics'. The homepage of the Twitter analytics site will show you a breakdown of all the key data from your Twitter account, with performance metrics (including number of tweets, mentions, followers and profile visits) from the last 28 days. It also compares those metrics to the previous 28 days to give you a sense of how you're doing.

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Scroll down, and you'll find a monthly summary, with the metrics from each calendar month in chronological order, along with a number of highlights such as top-performing tweets or notable new followers.

Navigate to the 'Tweets' tab, and you'll find more detailed information. Here, you can examine the analytics data for tweets published within a specific period, as well as sorting tweets based on their number of impressions and engagements. You can also sort them based on the engagement rate, which is the percentage of people who saw the tweet and then interacted with it in some way, such as retweeting it or clicking on a picture.

The 'Audiences' tab offers a wealth of interesting information about who it is who's actually seeing your tweets. This has an almost frightening level of data; it includes all the usual data you'd expect such as age, gender and location breakdowns, but it also tells you which topics your audience is interested in. You can even access data about how many of your followers are homeowners, their household income brackets and even their net worth! Bear in mind, however, that this data is obtained from Twitter's partners, and applies only to your US-based followers.

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If you want to tie your tweeting into what's happening in the world, you can use the 'Events' page, which basically functions as an expanded version of Twitter's trending topics. It'll give you an overview of current and upcoming events - like trade shows or public holidays - telling you which kinds of people tweet about it the most. For example, the upcoming CES expo in Las Vegas is most often tweeted about by men aged 18 to 24 (surprise, surprise).

If you're aiming to create a sponsored promotional campaign, Twitter can facilitate that in various ways, such as offering conversion tracking which allows you to track visitors to your website on Twitter, in order to target them with more relevant ads.

There are various third-party tools which you can explore in order to expand your data-gathering and analysis efforts, but by mastering Twitter's built-in analytics tools, you'll be able to spruce up your social strategy until you're sharing like the pros.

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